Questions pertaining to the conduct of community association board meetings are very common for the lawyers who focus on representing homeowners associations and condominium associations at our firm. It is imperative for HOAs and condominium associations to follow all of the proper procedures and regulations for these meetings.
Here is a listing of some of the requirements and procedures for the board meetings, which are defined as any gathering for the purpose of conducting association business by the members of the board of directors at which a quorum is present:
- Proper Notice – Unless the association’s by-laws or other governing documents provide for a longer period, notice of board meetings must generally be conspicuously posted within the community 48 hours prior to such meetings. However, in certain circumstances (such as the adoption of assessments or some types of rules), written notice must be posted and provided to the members at least 14 days in advance of a board meeting.
- Emergency Actions – In accordance with Florida law, an item of business that is not noticed may only be addressed on an emergency basis, such as situations involving sudden damage to the building, natural disasters and similar events. Emergency actions must be ratified or approved at the board’s next properly noticed board meeting at which a quorum of directors is attained.
- Comprehensive Meeting Agendas – The notice of the board meeting should adequately list the business items on the agenda. A board should make every effort to ensure that all reasonably anticipated topics of discussion are included. The agenda should be comprised of open items from the previous meeting requiring action; owner items that may require board action; building maintenance items, as required; project information, updates, requests, actions, etc.; and seasonal information, such as annual and budget meeting information as well as hurricane preparation matters.
Our community association attorneys often help clients to avoid many of the most common problems that arise at board meetings. These include excessively long meetings that seemingly do not accomplish anything, disruptions by disgruntled owners, digressions from the agenda items, and the lack of clear direction and purpose for the meeting. We help our clients to properly plan the meeting and distribute all of the pertinent information well in advance, including the agenda; minutes of the previous meeting; financial information; committee reports, if any; a management report; and any other information that will assist the board member in preparation for the meeting.
Unit owner participation at board meetings should also be taken into consideration. While constructive participation by all owners is generally encouraged, Florida law provides that condominium unit owners must be afforded the opportunity to speak on any agenda items (subject to reasonable rules that may be established by the association). However, boards should consider adopting guidelines for owner participation at meetings, publishing these guidelines before the meeting, and reading them at the beginning of every meeting for those in attendance. Typical guidelines provide that an owner may speak for three minutes on any agenda item, no member may speak more than once until all owners wishing to speak for the first time have done so, and owners may speak only twice on a single agenda item, the second time for one and a half minutes.
Owner discussion on agenda items is to occur before board action is taken on the agenda item. Limiting owner participation on agenda items until after the board action has been taken on the item defeats legislative intent and erodes meaningful opportunity for owners to address the board.
By working closely with our community association lawyers, more than 500 Florida homeowners associations and condominium associations are able to effectively conduct and manage their board meetings in accordance with all of the facets of Florida law. In our next blog post, we will cover several more of the most common problems that can affect board meetings and some of our recommendations to our clients about how to avoid them.